Have you ever struggled with
homework? Did you lack confidence at some point in your life? If you answered “yes” to either or both
of these questions, you have an idea of what CASA students are feeling.
Let me back up for a second. If you
are unfamiliar with what CASA means, it is simply “Children’s After School
Achievement” and it a program through Hope where students volunteer to tutor
elementary, at-risk children. The program is broken into semesters and is a
time when volunteers tutor children for four hours a week and help them build
confidence in their social and academic lives.
Last semester was my first semester
participating in the program and I definitely learned quite a bit from it. My
experience was very interesting last semester because my student struggled with
confidence and really needed motivation and guidance. Those were just a few of
the things that I learned to work on and help develop with her as well as
patience. However, after last semester I thought I would benefit by continuing
the program and helping another child that simply needs someone to look up to
while getting help in more way than one.
This past Wednesday was my first
day back at CASA and when I first walked into the classroom, something I noticed
that twice as many people showed up to volunteer than last semester! Tutors and
children were EVERYWHERE! I was amazed to see so many people giving up their
afternoon to be there and volunteer. If you’re wondering what you really do
during these two hours, two days a week, I’ll give you a walkthrough. First,
tutors show up and sign in, grab a snack, worksheets if they are offered, and a
progress sheet for their student. Then you wait for the kids to show up and you
frantically look for your student and head to a classroom in Lubbers and begin
doing homework with them. The day is divided into two phases: academic and
enrichment time. Academic time is simply doing homework and reading, while
enrichment time consists of doing a life skill activity or playing games to
help with the social aspect of the children’s lives. When academic and
enrichment time are over, you walk your student outside to their respective van
or bus and then fill out an evaluation form and write in a journal about what
you accomplished during the day.
This past Wednesday was very
hectic with all of the new tutors, but also because tutors and students were
anxious to get started and worried how things would go. For me, I was not yet
assigned a new student so I substituted for another tutor who could not make it
that day. When the student arrived, I found her and we went to a classroom and
did some homework worksheets she was assigned and then we talked for a bit and
got to know each other. It’s important to build a friendship with the child so
they feel comfortable talking to you so you can help them if the situation
permits. Simply being a positive influence in their life means the world to
them and even if they don’t realize it, they are benefitting extremely from
CASA and the experience. I encourage anybody who has the time and willingness
to volunteer for this program to do it because it’s a great way to meet new
people, make a new little friend, and make a difference in their lives. If you
have any questions about CASA, I’d be happy to answer them or direct you to the
head of the program!
Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @hopeleslie15.